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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Saving the Sabbath

Part 2 of 3

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”

                                                                                                Genesis 2: 1-3

When we study the book of Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we find that everything in all creation was established before God formed mankind. God declared that man was to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. He commanded Adam and Eve to fill the earth and subdue it. They were to have dominion over God’s creation.

However, the Sabbath was not created before man was formed, but rather it was established after God created man.  Man was not created to have dominion over the Sabbath, but instead the Sabbath was created for man!  This is precisely what Jesus told the religious leaders of his day in Mark 2:23-28:

The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

The Sabbath was established for our benefit, not our dominion. It was not something created for us to control or manipulate. The religious leaders of Christ’s day had buried the beauty of the Sabbath under a pile of man-made rules and regulations. In Luke 13:14, we read about how distraught they had become when Jesus ignored their attempts to harness and use the Sabbath day for their own interests and healed a woman contrary to their man-made regulations:

“Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

However, their false reverence for the Sabbath was exposed when Jesus rebuked them for untying their ox and leading them to water on the Sabbath, while criticizing the good He had done for the woman who had been crippled for 18 years.

 Interestingly, Jesus never tried to destroy the principle of Sabbath, but instead He strove to restore it to its original intent as a source of good in people’s lives:

“If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! There it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

                                                                                                Matthew 12:11-12

The Sabbath was established by God for our good, our rest and renewal, but it was a principle that extended beyond just people.


Pastor Scott Burr                                                                    


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Saving the Sabbath

Part 1
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.”
                                                                                                Exodus 31:12-13

According to polling data gleaned from several sources approximately 20% of Americans attend some form of religious service each week. Couple that with the fact that 70% of Americans identify themselves as Christians and you get the following raw data to work with: the population of the United States is approximately 314 million; using the data above, 220 million of them identify themselves as Christian; yet only 44 million attend church each week. 176 million people, who confess to be Christians, do not attend any form of weekly worship service.

The question is why? One reason for this huge discrepancy is that the principal of keeping Sabbath has been lost. Moses commanded the Israelites to observe Sabbath and that it would be a sign for the generations to come of God’s lasting covenant.

 He instructed the Israelites in Exodus 20:8 to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. What does the word “holy” mean? Holy means that something is set apart unto God for His purposes. The Sabbath day was a day set apart unto God for His purposes. It was a day holy unto the Lord, but it was also intended to be a day that we honored as holy.

Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people.”
                                                                                                Exodus 31:14

Our failure to honor the Sabbath, to keep it as holy,  is leading the next generation to forsake it. They do not see the value or validity in it, because we have desecrated it with our own selfish pursuits. We have in essence stripped the Sabbath of its holiness and subjugated it to being a simple weekend day; having no more significance than any other day of the week.

However, the keeping of Sabbath is more than just a good idea or another item on our to-do list; it is a spiritual principle that when honored will infuse us with physical rest and spiritual renewal.  A principle whose origins stem from creation itself:
 “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”

After God created all things, He rested on the 7th day, blessed it, and made it holy!
Pastor Scott Burr                                                                    


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Demolishing Strongholds

Part 4 of 4

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

                                                                                                            James 4:7

True spiritual warfare requires two components. We must resist the devil and we must demolish strongholds. What does resisting the devil look like? The best example of this is found in Luke 4:1-13.  Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Three times the devil tempted Jesus and three times Jesus resisted him. In each situation Jesus resisted the devil with the Word of God! The Word of God is your weapon in resisting the devil. That is why it is so important that we know it and can quote it!  Satan is no match for the Word of God!

Luke 4:13 tells us, “When the devil had finished all this tempting he left him until an opportune time.” If we resist the devil, he will flee. However, if we do not demolish the strongholds, he WILL return. Jesus expounds on this in Matthew 12:43-45:

“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean, and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

The evil spirit left the man, but eventually it came back only to find the house it once lived in unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. The evil spirit came back and found there was still a place for it to live in this man’s life. If we do not dismantle the strongholds of wrong thinking that are protecting our wrong behaviors, we are simply creating a place for the enemy to return to in our lives.

To destroy these strongholds we must renew our minds:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

                                                                                                            Romans 12:2

 Thinking is never neutral! It is both earthly and sinful leading to destruction or it is focused on heavenly things which lead to life. To demolish wrong thinking we must focus our minds on Christ and heavenly things. Colossians 3:2 tells us to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things. The Apostle Paul instructed the church at Philippi:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”

Paul understood the only way to destroy wrong thinking was to fill your mind with what is right! As we fill our minds with the Word of God and the knowledge of Christ; the grip of wrong thinking will be weakened and soon those strongholds will be demolished.

Pastor Scott Burr